Emmanuel Sanders hasn't been with the Denver Broncos for long, but he's fitting right in with Peyton Manning and the NFL's most potent offense in his first true preseason action against the Houston Texans.
The newly acquired Broncos wideout appeared in the preseason opener against the Seahawks but was not targeted and has missed the last few weeks with a strained quad. On Saturday, he wasted no time showing his worth.
Sanders caught five passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns—both coming in the final two minutes of the first half. Manning hit him for a 67-yard score, and they connected again from 29 yards out to put Denver up 17-7 before the half.
The Broncos brought in the former Pittsburgh Steeler to help replace Eric Decker, Denver's No. 3 wideout last year who joined the Jets in the offseason. So far, he's proving to be an upgrade if anything.
Having a talent like Sanders, along with having Manning throwing balls to him, makes him a much more valuable receiver than most teams' No. 3 options. This tweet from Cecil Lammey of ESPN sums that up:
Emmanuel Sanders ADP of WR30 (ridiculously low) on the rise tonight. ES a Peyton favorite. Another TD #Broncos— Cecil Lammey (@cecillammey) August 24, 2014
Many NFL teams don't have the luxury of giving their third and fourth options enough looks to be fantasy relevant, but the Broncos are a clear exception. Pass-catchers Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Decker and Julius Thomas were all formidable fantasy starters in 2013. Any or all of them could go off in the same game.
Assuming Manning can still play at an MVP level, which is a fair assumption despite his age, Sanders will be dangerous in fantasy. He's incredibly quick with the speed and elusiveness to make waves even behind Welker and Thomas.
What's more, Manning had most of his top targets on Saturday and still decided to look for Sanders more than anyone else.
And considering Sanders still hasn't played in a regular-season game with this team, the sky is the limit as far as his production in the offense goes.